New Zealand

  • Days: 15 Days

Day 1:

Arrive Auckland. See the Americas Cup village, view the city and harbour from the Sky Tower, take a boat trip to Waiheke Island or across to Devonport and visit the shops and cafes of Parnell Village.

Day 2:

Drive to Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula (160 km, 100 miles, 2 hours). The Coromandel has beautiful golden beaches, great swimming and bush walks.

Day 3:

Take a picnic and explore the beaches to the north including Hot Water Beach where you can dig your own Spa Pool in the sand, Hahei and Cathedral Cove and Cooks Beach. From Cooks Beach, drive along to Ferry landing, leave your car here and take a short ferry ride across to Whitianga with a good selection of cafes and shopping and a walk along Buffalo Beach.

Day 4:

Travel from Tairua to Rotorua (160km, 3.5 hours)via Whangamata with it's 3.8km Ocean Beach with great surf and a relaxed holiday atmosphere. Travel onto Rotorua and relax in the Thermal baths or visit the Wai-otapu Thermal Reserve or the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

Day 5:

Spend the day around the lakeside town of Rotorua. A helicopter trip to White Island, an active volcano is a highlight for many visitors, keen anglers will want to take a charter boat out on the lake and walking or cycling in the Whakarewarewa Forest is also recommended.

Day 6:

Fly from Rotorua to Nelson.Pick up your rental car here, visit the World of Wearable Arts Museum near the airport, visit Nelson town and then take a short (45 minute) drive onto your accommodation near Motueka.

Day 7:

Use today to visit the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. Drive to Marahau via Kaiteriteri to the Southern entrance to the park and the base for sea kayaking, boat trips and walks. (NB. the Abel Tasman Park is the most visited in New Zealand and bookings are recommended for the summer months in particular).If time allows, the Pupu Walkway and Te Waikoropupu Springs, the clearest freshwater springs in the Southern Hemisphere, are well worth a detour.

Day 8:

Drive from Motueka to Punakaiki via Murchison and the mighty Buller River- allow 5 hours with stops. Just South of Westport, take a short detour out to Cape Foulwind and The award winning Bayhouse Cafe for stunning views and fantastic food. A little further down the road at Charleston you can take a rail trip through the limestone valley up the Nile River through stunning rainforest and this trip is also highly recommended. Take a walk down Trumans Track just north of Punakaiki is recommended at low tide and try to see the Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Dolomite Point at high tide. There are lots of good bush walks around the Paparoa National Park and the Fox River.

Day 9:

Drive to Fox Glacier with stops in Hokitika (shop for greenstone at The Jade factory)and Franz Josef (250 km, 4.5 hours). Plan to arrive at one of the two Glaciers by early afternoon - (Fox and Franz Josef are approximately 45 minutes' drive apart) Either walk to the base of the Glaciers or join one of the guided glacier walks, which accommodate every level of fitness and experience. A helihiking trip is well worthwhile where you are flown up onto the glacier and taken for a guided walk to explore ice caves and formations. This is also the best place to take a scenic flight over the alps and the view of Mt Cook and the glaciers from the air is most spectacular from the Western side of the mountains. There are nature walks and other attraction options available to enjoy the area - visit the Franz Josef Glacier Visitor Centre for more information.

Day 10:

If you didn't get a chance to fly to the glaciers the day before, book an early morning trip. Drive onto Wanaka (260km, 5.5 hours) via the spectacular Haast Pass and Lake Hawea. Wanaka is a sublime tourist town on the edge of the 4th largest lake in New Zealand. There is plenty to do here with great walks around the lake and mountains, fishing and boating available, scenic flights up to the Mt Aspiring National Park and good restaurants and cafes to enjoy the view from.

Day 11:

Travel to Te Anau via Queenstown - if you have a 4 wheel drive or are comfortable with steeper roads, the drive to Queenstown is most scenic through the Crown Range (1 hour). Take a short detour into Arrowtown for lunch, an historic and very pretty mining town.The drive from here to Te Anau is another 3 hours along the Southern arm of Lake Wakatipu. Te Anau is the gateway to the Fiordland National Parks and is well set up to cater for visitors keen to experience the wildlife and walking facilities in the area.

Day 12:

Options are driving into Milford Sound (leave as early as you can to beat the tour coaches which come down on day trips from Queenstown), taking a tour coach from TeAnau to Milford Sound.From Te Anau the road winds up the Eglington and Hollyford Valleys, then through the Homer Tunnel before being greeted by Mitre Peak towering from the glassy waters of Milford Sound. Boats cruise the full length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea, and stop at various points of interest along the way to view waterfalls and marine life. Cruises leave from the main wharf at Milford Sound.Another option is the spend the day visiting he deepest of all the fiords, Doubtful Sound has ancient rainforest and abundant wildlife. Virtually untouched by man, the Sound is a wonderful place to visit. Captain James Cook sighted the entrance to Doubtful Sound on his first voyage to New Zealand in 1770. He called the place Doubtful Harbour. Today one of the most popular of all Fiordland excursions is the return one-day trip from Manapouri to Doubtful Sound. Modern launches leave Pearl Harbour at Manapouri (20 minutes from Te Anau) and cross Lake Manapouri to West Arm, where visitors can see the West Arm Underground Power Station before heading over Wilmot Pass and on to Doubtful Sound.

Day 13:

Drive to Dunedin (290 km, 180 miles, 4 hours. If time allows, take a tour of the TeAnau Caves and glow worm grottos. The drive to Dunedin is through some of New Zealands most lush and fertile farmlands with many small prosperous rural towns along the way. The Moth Restaurant at Mandeville, 10 minutes out of Gore is a good late lunch stop and there is a vintage aircraft restoration workshop here with Tiger Moths a specialty.

Day 14:

Dunedin offers plenty for those interested in wildlife. We recommend you include a Monarch Wildlife Cruise to see the Royal Albatross colony and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve. Visit Larnarchs Castle and experience the history and atmosphere of this southern city with it's Scottish heritage.

Day 15:

Return to Christchurch (362 km, 225 miles, 4.5 hours)with stops at the Moeraki Boulders and Oamaru, known for its classical Victorian buildings made of a chalky limestone.Travel onto Christchurch and depart from here.



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